The teaching ministry of a student pastor is one of the most crucial and challenging parts of student ministry. Not only are student pastors planning events, meeting with students, working with parents and volunteers, or just doing anything else that comes up, most are responsible for teaching the Bible anywhere from 1-3 times a week. It becomes easy to neglect this ministry, or take shortcuts because it consumes time and energy, but this does not negate the responsibility God has called us to faithfully teach God’s Word to God’s students.
With this, I believe one of the most effective ways to teach the Bible week in and week out to students is through a teaching series. By teaching series, I mean a sequential study of one book, topic, or theme in the Bible for any given number of weeks. I hope to provide four helpful steps when it comes to planning a student ministry teaching series.
- Pray for God to Direct You to Teach what Your Students Need to Hear.
This first step sounds like a given, but it surprises me often how we can overlook it. Teaching the Bible is not about what we have to say, but what God has to say. Neither is Bible teaching simply about our favorite topics, or sermons we’ve heard from our pastor heroes. It’s great God gives us passions for particular things and gives us faithful men to look up to, but teaching “because John Piper taught it” isn’t a good enough reason. Pray God will lead you to teach what your students need to hear right now. Perhaps there’s an issue your students are asking about or struggling with, or maybe God has spoken to you recently as you’ve studied through a book of the Bible. Listen to and go where God is telling you. Pray for direction and for a humble confidence to faithfully speak what God has spoken.
- Capture a “Big Idea” for Your Students to Take Away from Your Series.
As you put together the pieces of your teaching series, make sure you have a clear direction. Avoid trying to find that direction as you teach through the series. From the first night of a new series, I like to tell my students what our series is about, and show them how our series point back to that “big idea” each week. For instance, we are currently in a series called “Metamorphosis: Be Transformed, Live Transformed.” The goal of this series is to see we are transformed by Jesus, and because of Jesus, we live transformed. We go back to this theme every single week as we see how the gospel provides the fuel for us to live transformational lives. Strive for every student who attends your weekly gathering to understand the bottom line of what your message is about, and how it fits into the rest of the series.
- Calendar Your Series.
Lay out when and how long your teaching series is going to take place. This is one of the most difficult, yet incredibly helpful parts in planning a teaching series. Plan as far in advance as possible. You likely won’t have every individual lesson planned out when you begin a series, but strive to have the direction of each week set in place. For instance, as you teach through a book of the Bible, decide which text will be taught on which week. Or if you’re doing a series on the parables of Jesus, know which parable will be taught on each week before the series even begins. Curriculum proves helpful as much of this work is already done for you, but don’t be afraid to adapt or adjust your curriculum. If you only use curriculum, I would challenge you to create your own series soon. I personally try to stay 3 months ahead in my series planning, and I try to plan 1-3 series’ ahead of my current series to know what’s coming next and how I can begin to prepare for it.
- Promote Your Series in Weeks Leading up to as well as Throughout Your Series.
As your series approaches, promote it in the weeks leading to it. Depending upon your skill set, use where God has gifted you to get your students aware and excited about what you will be studying! This ranges from graphics, promo videos, mailers, dramas, exc. Show your students you have put some thought into what you will be teaching, and more importantly, that you take the Bible seriously. Also, continue to promote your series as you walk through it. Explore how you can coordinate your ministry events with your weekly teaching series. This past spring we went on a retreat that focused upon what it means to be a follower of Christ. As we came back, our next teaching series was geared in that same direction. Think about follow-up opportunities you can utilize to help these concepts sink in to the hearts of your students as well. Ask yourself, “How can I prompt my students to respond to God’s Word both in this series and when this series is over?”
These are a few things I’m learning along the way as I teach the Bible to students on a weekly basis. I don’t claim to be an expert, but these are some things that have worked for me, and some things you can implement into your teaching ministry that I believe will also help you. I hope and pray they are an encouragement to you as you seek to teach God’s Word faithfully and effectively to the next generation.
Mark Etheridge currently serves as Youth Pastor at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Pittsboro, NC. He is also enrolled at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in their Master of Divinity program in Christian ministry. You can connect with Mark on both Twitter and Facebook.